129 Minnesota clinics urged to contact patients over meningitis - KMSP-TV

129 Minn. clinics urged to contact patients over meningitis risks

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One day after an investigation began into two more drugs from the pharmacy linked to a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak, health officials in Minnesota are urging 129 clinics in the state to contact patients who received any injection made by the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.

At this point, it is not known how many patients in Minnesota may be affected. So far, there have been five confirmed cases of fungal meningitis linked to the outbreak in the state.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 231 confirmed cases and 15 deaths across 15 states as of Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, the CDC confirmed that two cases of fungal infections have been confirmed in the peripheral joints of two patients. No additional details were given, but peripheral joints include knees, hips, shoulders and elbows.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that a possible case of meningitis had been linked to a second steroid product after a patient developed a fungal infection following open-heart surgery. The illness remains under investigation, and officials said it is possible the heart patient was infected by another source.

The FDA is now asking health care professionals to check up on any patient who received any injection produced by NECC -- including during eye surgery -- after May 21, 2012.

Symptoms of meningitis include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. The CDC said many of the cases have been mild, and some people had strokes.

Symptoms have been appearing between one and four weeks after patients got the shots, but CDC officials on Thursday warned at least one illness occurred 42 days after a shot.

On Oct. 8, the pharmaceutical lab issued a voluntary recall of all of its products, citing "an abundance of caution." Three days later, an attorney in Minnesota filed what he said was the first federal lawsuit against NECC, alleging the company was negligent.

Until this week, officials were solely focused on contacting and evaluating those who received a specific lot of steroids that were suspected of contamination and were distributed to the Minnesota Surgery Center and Medical Advanced Pain Specialists. About 985 Minnesota patients were believed to have been exposed, and nearly all have been contacted.

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